TEXARKANA, Texas When an opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream opens up, you should take it, and that is the case with Liberty-Eylau's new head volleyball coach Lacey Middlebrooks.
"Right now, it's still all surreal for me," Middlebrooks said. "Long term, I knew it would always be cool to come back. My siblings and I went here, my dad is still here, and the Liberty-Eylau community means so much to us.
"When this opportunity came about, I was somewhat hesitant. It was something that I always thought about but I never thought I would actually have a chance to come back here. I wanted to make sure I wasn't forcing a position because it's Liberty-Eylau, but I wanted to make sure the timing was right."
The Lady Leopards are led by seniors Tamara Norris and Daycoria Meadows.
"Tamara plays a vital role for us; she's an all-around player," Middlebrooks said. "Daycoria and Tamara are our biggest leaders on the court. Both have energy and they carry the team in such a way, that doesn't interfere with what they want to do. That's what you want out of your floor captains.
"This year is going to be different. Roles have changed within the team and everyone has embraced it. As coaches, we can only do so much, so we look to our floor leaders to extend our message on the court."
Junior Breanna Webster, senior Kirsten Stuard and senior Tamara Simpkins will also be relied on heavily down the stretch.
"Tamara and Breanna both came on towards the end last year," Middlebrooks said. "We'll look a little different this year due to graduation. Everyone is going to play a different role than they expected but since it's new and fresh, there's not as much pressure.
"Kirsten is very calm and collected. She knows where she needs to be and she also knows where everyone else needs to be, which is what you want out of your libero. We have experience in vital positions."
Senior Tanner Robb, senior Simaya White, junior Alyssa Little and junior Chelsea Simmons will added experienced hitters for the Lady Leopards at the nets.
Newcomers freshman Myah Hurd, freshman Ja'Niya Sanders and sophomore Kaclyn Nelson are also expected to contribute right away for L-E's varsity squad.
"I have some really good athletes all around," Middlebrooks said. "The girls are learning something different than what they expected. We have a really good mix of girls this year.
"We have a lot of younger players that I will look to when they learn a little more as we go on. There's not much separation because I'm from here. Some of the girls told me they thought it was cool that I was back because I'm from here. It makes my job easier to know they fully understand what I'm saying because I've been in their shoes before at the same place they're at. It makes dealing with the tough times a little easier because they know you're there for them."
2019 Lady Leopards Schedule
Aug. 9=New Boston=4:30 p.m.
Aug. 12=Hooks=4:30 p.m.
Aug. 15=at Redwater Tournament=TBA
Aug. 16=Marshall=4:30 p.m.
Aug. 17=at Redwater Tournament=TBA
Aug. 20=at Mount Pleasant=4:30 p.m.
Aug. 22=at Athens=TBA
Aug. 24=at Athens=TBA
Aug. 27=Queen City=4:30 p.m.
Aug. 30=at East Texas Baptist University=TBA
Aug. 31=at East Texas Baptist University=TBA
Sept. 3=Texas High=4:30 p.m.
Sept. 6=at Chapel Hill=4:30 p.m.
Sept. 10=Mount Vernon=4:30 p.m.
Sept. 13=at Texas High=4:30 p.m.
Sept. 27=x-Pleasant Grove=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 4=x-Paris=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 8=x-Pittsburg=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 11=x-at North Lamar=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 15=x-at Pleasant Grove=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 22=x-at Paris=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 25=x-at Pittsburg=4:30 p.m.
Oct. 29=x-North Lamar (Senior Night)=4:30 p.m.
x-Denotes District 15-4A game